The Day I Accused My Wife of Infidelity

I accused my wife of infidelity last year. No, there was no evidence. No, there was no change in our relationship. No, it is not characteristic of her in the slightest. However, I had my reasons . . . but I am getting ahead of myself.

What probably became evident to many of you last year is that I am not a charismatic. I don’t believe in the continuation of gifts such as “effecting of miracles,” healings, or prophecy. I want to; I just don’t. Out of all the so-called charismatic gifts, I believe prophecy and healings are the most important for people to really think deeply about. With so much disease and sickness in the church today, we don’t want to be flippant with any ideas like, “God wants to heal you, but you lack _______.” This can be utterly destructive to people’s faith and hope in the Lord.

Just as difficult is the gift of prophecy. To say that God wants to speak directly into your life through a prophetic encounter is no small statement. It can redirect the entire course of a person’s life. It can send them on witch hunts, cause them to start churches, or even make them drown their kids and blame it on the Lord. I even had a guy at the Credo House last year say that his life long mission was to take down Nike. Why? you ask. Well, according to him, God told him to do so.

However, this reality hit home for me last year more than any other time in my life. I had been discussing this issue with a charismatic friend whom I respect a great deal. Throughout our discussion, I promised him I would keep a prayerful, open mind about the issue. And, to the best of my ability, I was doing just that. I certainly didn’t want to “quench” any movement of the Spirit in my life or my ministry. We happened to be talking about the gift of prophecy. While I believe that God moves sovereignly and definitively in our lives, I have never believed that I should seek or expect any direct encounter from him. Whether through a dream, a vision, an audible encounter, a visit from a prophet, or a donkey talking, I have never heard from God in such a way. I would love to, but I simply have not and have not ever expected to. Yet, I want to be open.

One evening after discussing prophecy with my charismatic friend, who believes that I should live with more expectation to hear from God prophetically (including through dreams), I prayed earnestly before bed that the Lord would take me in the right direction. It was late at night. It was one of those prayers you pray just before you go to sleep. That night, I had a dream. (I am incredibly hesitant to include this for many reasons that will become evident, but I think it is necessary for you to understand the spirit of my writing here.)

The next morning was like any other. Most of the time all dreams of the previous night are never brought to memory. Scientists tell us that during REM sleep, dreams are forgotten as quickly as they occur. Normally, you can only remember the dream you had just before you wake up. All others fade quickly. But even then, the last dream is only remembered with some effort as your memory system processes things differently during the dream state. However, this time was different.

That morning, as the events of the last dream casually moved through my mind, just as I was about to discard this dream without second thought, I remembered my plea before the Lord, “Lord, if you have something to say to me through prophecy or through a prophet, please help me to know and accept it.” Was this something that the Lord wanted me to know? Was this dream a word from the Lord? Surely not. But, if I am serious about what I prayed, I need to consider this. It was an unusually clear dream (or was it?). It was an unusual dream. I dwelt upon it all morning. The moment I would discard it as ridiculous, it would resurface. It was as if I was supposed to remember this dream. Before I left for work, I thought about talking to my wife about it, but then I changed my mind. I need to leave this one alone, I kept thinking.

By midday I was consumed by the dream. Finally, I got on my wife’s account on Facebook and queried “Lewis Johnson.” My dream was about my wife. In the dream, she was having an affair with a man named Lewis Johnson (those of you who are theological gurus, quit laughing!). The main thing I remember from the dream was what I was supposed to do. Indeed, it was what I felt compelled to do. I was to search my wife’s account on Facebook for “Lewis Johnson,” the man with whom she was having an affair. After wrestling with this all morning, I finally did. I went to her account, signed in as her, and typed “Lewis Johnson” in her Friends query. Result? No Lewis Johnson found.

I hung my head in shame. How could I have had such a terrible and wayward thought? But, sadly, this fruitless Facebook search did not stop my wandering (prophecy seeking?) mind. You must understand: I have never accused my wife of cheating on me. Never. I have never suspected anything. Never. In fact, in our family, it has become quite a joke about how unsuspecting I am. We have had those in our family who have battled suspicion about their spouses, but not me. I have been the go-to relative to help those who, from time to time, get caught in this trap of undue suspicion (and it is a terrible trap). Nothing has ever made me doubt my wife’s fidelity. However, this time it was different. This time, I might have had a word from the Lord, through a dream, that made my (otherwise completely unwarranted) suspicions true.

So, that night, I approached my wife very casually and did a name drop. I don’t remember exactly how, but I asked her if she knew a Lewis Johnson. Both the look on her face (or lack thereof), and her casual attitude concerning the name, confirmed my suspicions. She had no clue who he was. She was not having an affair.

Now, I don’t want to be overly dramatic with my story here. My rational mind did not ever really think she was having an affair. However, there was a bug in my ear that caused me to have “what if?” thoughts of infidelity that I never would have had otherwise.

Why all of this? Because seeking an extra-biblical, personal revelation from God – right or wrong, biblical or not, continuing today or not – is a dangerous thing. I let down my guard with the Lewis Johnson Facebook thing. I lowered the standard that a prophecy must pass in order for it to have a legitimate claim to my beliefs. I actively sought prophecy and ended up accusing my wife of infidelity. Luckily, the consequences were not severe. My wife actually liked the idea that I might be jealous. Since then it has turned into a joke, as I ask my wife every once in a while if she has been talking to Lewis Johnson. But this kind of stuff can be terribly destructive and potentially life-altering. Any time people believe they could be privy to transcendent knowledge and commands, the ante is raised. Many people are controlled by prophecies they were given when they were young. Though the “prophet” of my dream gave no compelling signs that he was truly a prophet, many people hang on dreams they have. Why? Because they are taught to expect a word from the Lord. My wife had a prophetic word given to her when she was a teen. She was told that she would die of cancer. A guy at the Credo House told me the other day that he was told he would be a great preacher. Another is told to take this job or that. I was told that I would be hurt in a car crash in a red sports car in my early thirties.

My contention is that we must never believe these things unless there are absolutely compelling reasons for us to do so that go well beyond emotional disposition. Casual dreams or someone coming up to you and saying, “I have a word from the Lord for you,” with nothing to back it up, are not only irresponsible for us to believe, but completely dishonoring to the name of the Lord.  Doing these things can ruin your life.

156 Responses to “The Day I Accused My Wife of Infidelity”

  1. “While we want God’s leading in our lives, that is far different than seeking a special gift from God to confirm we have His blessing, when such is really not necessary”

    If you think that this is why the majority of charismatics seek to use their gifts, then you are sorely mistaken. Rather it is seeking to fulfil the instruction in 1 Corithians 12:31 to “earnestly desire the higher gifts”. They are seeking maturity in their faith as much as any cessationist.

    (FWIW, I’m not convinced by your interpretation of Hebrews 6 either, as I don’t think it’s consistent with the other exhortations of maturity in the NT)

  2. Michael,
    In reference to your comments in #50.

    “Incorrigible” is a term from epistemology regarding, roughly, the inability to be wrong about a certain belief.

    In regards to your understanding of the tests in Deut 13 and 18. Is it your understanding that everyone who exercised the gift of prophecy in Rome (Romans 12.6) and Corinth (1 Cor 14) also authenticated themselves by a “miraculous sign?” Paul didn’t include that in his instructions in regulating prophecy in 1 Corinthians. I’ve not heard cessationists argue this before and I want to make sure I understand what your saying about NT congregational prophecy. Was it the case that everyone who (legitimately) prophesied in the early church also had attendant miraculous signs to authenticate them as prophets?

  3. Terrific, the “I once acted like a doofus” argument.

  4. More seriously…

    If you have a prophetic dream in which you see your wife and know she is haveing an affair with a man named Lewis Johnson, don’t do the following:

    -Interpret the meaning as your wife had an affair with one Lewis Johnson.

    DO do the following:

    1. Ask God to tell you the meaning–interpretations belong to God (Gen 40:8)
    2. Consider the word picture aspect (as with Gen 40, Dan 2)–prophetic dreams typically come in riddles (Num 12:8)
    3. You can certainly ask your wife about a literal “Lewis Johnson” but mainly to rule out a literal interpretation not a riddle.

    Frankly, the last time you mentioned this story I had a possiblity for you. Do you want to hear it? Of course you do…

    Your friend Sam Storms was previously a Cessationist particularly in his Believer’s Chapel days, hence Lewis Johnson represents Cessationism. Adultery would represent a failure of faithfulness to the one you love. I believe this took place during your co-blogging with Sam. In this interpretation, the Lord is warning you that continued rejection of ongoing empowered ministry despite Sam’s demonstration that it is Biblical is willfully turning from His desire for you and clinging to another.

    Or not. Just a suggestion.

  5. Yes, I know incorragable. I’ve seen Sound of Music!

  6. I would not see why we would say that God was so concerned about the integrity of his word so as to set up parameter after parameter in the Old Teatament only to jettison this concern in the NT. more than that, he does not even ever say that Deut 13 and 18 are not longer required. The only example which are illustrated in the NT (prophetic apostles) and Abagus all showed such signs. Paul even reinforces this in 2 Cor 12:12. So I don’t thin references in 1 Cor 12-14 and Rom add to or take away from what seems to be pretty well established. Any argument otherwise would not only he arguing from silence bit arguing against continued illustrations.

  7. Marv,

    “Your friend Sam Storms was previously a Cessationist particularly in his Believer’s Chapel days, hence Lewis Johnson represents Cessationism. Adultery would represent a failure of faithfulness to the one you love. I believe this took place during your co-blogging with Sam. In this interpretation, the Lord is warning you that continued rejection of ongoing empowered ministry despite Sam’s demonstration that it is Biblical is willfully turning from His desire for you and clinging to another.”

    I hope this is not serious. It is so subjective, loaded with agenda, and most of all, totally unverifiable. It is these type of manipulations that not only keep people from the Charismatic movement, but also from the deepening of faith. I would consider it if 1) you were a verified prophet, 2) it was accompanied by a sign or wonder, 3) it had a testable near predictive element to it. If none of those are present, I don’t even want to hear what someone thinks God is saying. It is far too dangerous and I, like everyone else, am too vulnerable. That is why I am glad that these tests are in place.

  8. Michael,

    I’m not saying that is the interpretation. So in that sense it is not “serious.”

    But if we take what Num 12 tells us, unless we’re on a level with Moses, prophecy does speak through dreams, and those in riddles.

    The main point is to understand that like with the baker and cupbearer, like with Pharaoh, like with Nebuchadnezzar, also as in visions such as the Revelation, entities and pictures represent something ELSE and not always themselves.

    So asking your wife if she actually did do what you saw in your dream does not exhaust the effort to interpret it. It really isn’t even the first step. Or even an early step. It’s just as likely a representation of something else.

    What are those things? Well, I don’t know (as you’ve already figured out). But God knows, and if He did send you this dream as a prophecy, He wants you to know. So He’ll tell you.

    But the details are certainly important, and worth mulling over. And one thing one should consider, and ponder, if a dream contained a story line with one’s spouse in adultery is not that SHE is doing something, but whether “I” am doing something which is symbolized as “adultery” in the dream.

    Never mind the Cessationism part–sure my agenda–but ponder what the name “Lewis Johnson” could mean.

    Don’t give up on this one.

  9. Marv,

    In order to be responsible, I must give up on this one. The interpretations and ideas are endless. It is not unlike the alegorical interpretation of Scripture which turned the early church in so many bad directions. When there is not a established verified prophet who is doing the interpreting, we have no business trying to figure out what something *might* mean. This is the word of God we are talking about, not some song on the radio. It carries transcendance and authority.

    Daniel and Joseph’s interpretation comes in a context where these guys were already seen to be God’s men. As well (and most importantly), their interpretations had testability as they were predictive. If there was not seven years of famine, Joseph would have been in trouble. The vindication comes for both as events transpire and definitely show that these were from God. There is no responsibility to believe when there is no way to vindicate the prophecy. And this is what we have here with my dream (unless someone wants to put a foretelling spin on their interpretation).

    Again *anyone* can *say* that they have something from the Lord. Not anyone can vindication their assumptions. Therefore, I think it is irresponsible and destructive to even consider something as prophetic if there is no definite sign.

    Without a definite sign the “what ifs?” will kill you. What if my wife is really having an affair? What if I am leaving my first love? What if, what if, what if… Endless . . . depending on which charismatic is giving you his interpretation.

    Marv, I am not saying that cessationism is true. Even if I was a charismatic, this is the same advice I would give. Don’t play around with God’s word offering subjective interpretations. People are too impressionable. It will effect their life, ministry, and (sometimes) marraige stability.

  10. Fine, but unless we wish to ignore Acts 2:17 ordinary Christians should expect prophetic dreams (or does that make you and “old man…”).

    And unless we wish to ignore what the Bible shows us about how these actually work–in favor of our own imagined ideas about how these should work–then we will consider not “allegorical” interpretations of texts, but what the images in our dream may represent–the way people in the Bible do it.

    Above all, unless we wish to ignore what the Bible tells us about interpretation of any kind, we should ask God for wisdom, “who gives generously to all without reproach.”

    Rereading your post, I don’t see anywhere you say you asked God. Why not?

    But also re-reading the post I see this happened after specifically asking God to take you “in the right direction” about expecting to hear His voice. So I wonder why you didn’t pursue the dream as being about the subject you prayed for” rather than some unrelated idea about your wife.

    I don’t know Michael, but it now seems to become more about whether you think God answers prayer and whether we can believe His written word than whether this one experience means anything. My suggestion: He DOES answer prayer, and we CAN believe His written word.

    Sounds like you prayed, He answered, His word tells you what to do with it, but now that you’ve got it you don’t want it.

  11. Michael,
    Just so I’m clear on where you’re coming from–do you believe that anyone besides the apostles and Agabus engaged in giving true prophecy? Do you believe that all people who engaged in prophecy in the Pauline churches (to take these as examples) also demonstrated miraculous signs to authenticate the prophecy? In your understanding, should we assume (even though it is not mentioned in the text) that Philip’s four daughters who were prophetesses (Acts 21.9) also authenticated their prophecies with miraculous signs?

  12. I would say this: all we have to go on is that if someone had a word from the Lord they would have had to demonstrate the truthfulness of their claim in a definite testable manner. Otherwise, how could someone “test the prophets”. I imagine it went much further than asking someone with discernment as how could you test the one with discernment? It is never ending.

    However there is hope. God is pretty big. When he wants to tell us something he knows how. Therefore, anytime that there is a claim to prophecy, we should doubt such until it is verified in an extraordinary way like the examples we have and the direct precepts given in Deut 13 and 18.

    This way, you can remain a continuationist. But most continuationists standards need to increase a great deal. Is that too much to ask if we are protecting Gods reputation?

  13. Have you discussed this matter with Sam Storms? I wonder what he has to say about it?

  14. Marv,

    Sam and I talked about this for a year both on Theology Unplugged and the blog. We talked up down and sideways. Still do sometimes. He is a good friend.

  15. Hi Richard,

    Two things about Phillips daughters.

    1. It says nothing about any “signs”, just that they “prophesied”.

    2. In Biblical Greek (and Hebrew) the word “prophet” or to prophecy has two meanings. One is to foretell the future. The other is to speak the already revealed word of God.

    Consequently rather than foretelling the future they could also just be spoken of as active in preaching to others. This would fit that they were daughters of a preacher and in a world where women normally did not get much respect or attention, especially un-married women.

    Other than the Apostles and Jesus, Agabus is the only one who foretold anything we have a specific record of and it was not for the congregation, just for Paul and that is the only account like that I can think of in Scripture.

    That preaching would also require God’s spirit as Jesus spoke of it impelling his followers to preach, even beyond what he did.

  16. Hi Paul!

    1. Agreed. The text regarding Philip’s daughters does not mention signs. Michael was the one arguing that all prophets had to have miraculous authentication so I was asking him about this.
    2. Actually, I’m not sure about your comments about the Greek/Hebrew regarding “prophets/prophecy”. In the NT there does seem to be distinction between prophecy and teaching. Prophecy is based on a revelatory experience whereas teaching concerns bringing forth a message based on an already revealed teaching/scripture. Just a bit of the data on this distinction.
    a) 1 Cor 12.29 mentions both “prophets” and “teacher”. There seems to be a distinction.
    b) 1 Cor 14.30 speaks of prophets receiving a “revelation” while in the assembly. This revelation can have the effect of revealing the “secrets of the heart” (1 Cor 14.25).
    c) Paul mentions that he wishes they all would prophesy (1 Cor 14.5) but James states that not many should be teachers (James 3.1) thus showing a distinction between prophecy and teaching.
    d) Women can prophesy (1 Cor 11.5) but are forbidden from teaching in the congregation over men (1 Tim 2.11-12).
    e) Elders must be able to teach (1 Tim3.2) but they are not told they need to have the gift of prophecy.
    There does seem to be a conceptual difference between teaching (based on an already given revelation/scripture) and the receiving of a revelation from the Lord and delivering that revelation to others. For more detailed exposition of this view see Wayne Grudem’s book “The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today”.

    My main point was to point out to Michael that the NT speaks of the gift of prophecy in Romans and 1 Cor. thus assuming that there were people in those congregations that operated with that gift. Michael’s view entails that each and every one of these people who exercised the gift of prophecy also had to authenticate their message with a miraculous sign. That seems a bit of a stretch to me in light…

  17. Michael, Do you think perhaps that the setting of Deut is different to that of the NT. After all, didn’t Samuel give King David initial bad advice about the building of the Temple?

  18. Craig, that would have been the prophet Nathan. Samuel died before the end of Saul’s reign.

    As for criteria for judging prophecy, I think there is a difference in the OT and NT. In the OT, the Spirit of God “came upon” certain people at certain times for specific tasks. In the NT, the Holy Spirit indwells all believers. So in the OT when someone prophesied in the name of YHWH, miraculous signs were an attendant confirmation. In the NT, Paul instructs the congregation to judge prophecies, but doesn’t tell them to wait for certain empirical proofs. Rather, they judge the message based on its congruence with orthodox doctrine (the Apostles’ teaching) and the witness of the Spirit of God dwelling in each believer.

  19. Craig, no. I don’t see how. It would require quite a bit of adjustment in my thinking (which, I suppose, in theory, I am willing to make!). Why would God be less protective of his word in the NT than the OT? It would seem odd that the third commandment (which is essentially protecting God’s rep in the face of false prophecy), Deut 13, 18, and Jer. 23 (read this passage).

    Samuel’s bad advice or bad prophecy? If it was just advice, who would have a problem with it? Prophets and Apostles could err outside of their prophetic statements.

  20. Hi Richard,

    I did see that you were responding to a previous pop
    st. I just used yours as a springboard to mine.

    Your now have said:d) Women can prophesy (1 Cor 11.5) but are forbidden from teaching in the congregation over men (1 Tim 2.11-12).
    e) Elders must be able to teach (1 Tim3.2) but they are not told they need to have the gift of prophecy.

    Paul: The key here is IN the congregation. There is nothing to indicate that Phillips daughters prophesied IN the congregation. This, in line with Phillip’s own actions with the Ethiopian, could easily refer to prophesy/preaching out side the congregation. This would explain why Paul said that women were not to do so In the congregation. Their prophesying/preaching out side would be OK, like Priscilla’s.

    There is a difference between Preaching and teaching as well, though they can overlap. See Matt 28:19,20.

    ” 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    Here teaching is done TO disciples, whereas Preaching could also include those not having any knowledge of God and Christ. Kinda like Paul on the Aeropagus (preaching) and Paul in the upper room (Teaching) where the one young disciple fell out the window.

    You also said:

    My main point was to point out to Michael that the NT speaks of the gift of prophecy in Romans and 1 Cor. thus assuming that there were people in those congregations that operated with that gift. Michael’s view entails that each and every one of these people who exercised the gift of prophecy also had to authenticate their message with a miraculous sign. That seems a bit of a stretch to me in light…

    Paul: I would agree.

  21. Here is good article by Mark Cartledge “Charismatic Prophecy and New Testament Prophecy” in which he examines the views of J.I. Packer, Wayne Grudem, Max Turner, David Hill, and D.A. Carson. I think it might be relevant to the discussion regarding any potential differences between OT and NT prophecy.

  22. Hi Richard,

    I liked his collusion.

    This allows for “prophecy” to be something other than an ecstatic experience and simply brings it into the realm of sharing in an understanding that someone believes they have. This could be correct or not, depending on how it lines up with Scripture. We all do this from time to time as we feel we have learned something new through the guidance of God’s spirit.

  23. Hi, Michael, please don’t take me as being argumentative about this… So, begging your pardon for continuing.

    Thanks for responding to my question about Sam Storms. I’m quite aware about your blogging and unplugging conversation with him. It was very cool and I appreciate your doing it. In fact I semi-covered it blog-wise, and I’m pretty sure you semi-quoted me once on Unplugged (delusions of grandeur!!!)

    But when you say you discussed “this” with Sam, I’m asking you specifically about THIS dream. I can’t imagine you didn’t mention it to him. Mind sharing with us anything he said in response to this specific subject.

    Thanks, and I’ll try not to be a pest…

    (See, the Lord is doing a NEW THING… LOL.)

  24. So your wife bore the burden of your deliberate ignorance. Great.

  25. I have always been taught a cessasionist view and I get it. But it also seems to me that the arguments against these gifts operating currently sometimes spring less from careful exegesis than from a fear of abuse. Disliking the implications or possible distortions of Scripture is not grounds for dismissing it. Plus IMO there are also significant dangers which attend the cessasionist position, namely that we do not truly expect God to work in our lives or to engage our emotions at all. We can become congregations full of bloodless, passionless students, carefully hiding God’s Words in our notebooks but never encountering the living God at all. So, assuming God doesn’t ‘speak’ today through prophecy or dreams or such, what should we expect when we ask God to guide us on a daily basis? Of course we look to the Bible, but when we pray for guidance or understanding, aren’t we asking for something a little different than Scripture?

  26. This is such an important post. You are so right that people’s lives can be ruined over it. Can you imagine what would’ve happened to you if you’d grown up with this false teaching? Your only two options here would’ve been 1) your wife was lying or 2) God was not real/not faithful. It’s a horrifying thing.

    And yet this business of “The Lord told me” is constant, everywhere. Those same people who always read their Bibles with the “What is God saying to me?” approach will often be uninterested in actual Bible study, learning its context and history, apologetics, etc. It’s all about emotion.

  27. Monica,
    You wrote: “But it also seems to me that the arguments against these gifts operating currently sometimes spring less from careful exegesis than from a fear of abuse.”

    I agree. Great point to watch out for in these discussions.

    I’m sure there are people who use the “The Lord told me” in a immature and, even, harmful manner. You really should look at the better, more sophisticated representatives of the broader charismatic tradition as you assess the truthfulness and cogency of the position. Teachers you might want to consider: Dallas Willard, J.P. Moreland, Wayne Grudem, Max Turner, and Jack Deere for starters.

  28. @ Richard Klaus –

    I am familiar to some extent with the first three but not the last two. Thanks for the information.

    Just to clarify, my view is not that there are no instances of God speaking to someone by a dream or another person or something else. I am open to that happening. (The issue of tongues is something different, since I have NEVER, not once, ever seen it used the way the Scripture instructs, which is with an interpretation given.)

    I guess my concern is, as you said, abuse. It seems to have become common now to use “God told me” or picking out random verses out of context as a replacement for studying the Word in a responsible manner. It’s understandable, because it’s much easier! But it’s also dangerous.

  29. EMSoliDeoGloria June 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Frequent reader of your blog here, Michael, and I really appreciate your writing. I’m unconvinced here, however, not because I think you are doing something wrong but because I KNOW better.

    I’ve seen plenty of abusive “charismania” type exhibitions. I don’t think most of that is of the devil, I think most if ot is from attention seeking or otherwise vulnerable people.

    But the abuses, as others have noted, don’t negate the real. And the real is – most of the time – I think, very much along the lines of what your earlier commenter “Craig Bennett” described.

    While I won’t rule out the possibility of something else, I generally believe that the subjective witness of the Spirit through a dream or vision or “word (of prophecy or knowledge)” or sense from the Lord is intended to reassure our spirits of objective truth that we already “know.”

    In other words, the subjective shouldn’t be used to make major life decisions (usually) but can provide inner reassurance at a time when we need it – it is a reminder that God sees, God hears, God knows, God loves, God is with us. All of these are objective biblical truths and an unusual experience that reminds us of them should be taken as encouragement.

    This has been my experience at least. It’s true that the test of orthodoxy is easy – it’s also very important.

    God does not tell anyone to divorce their spouse and take up with that attractive younger wo/man at the office.

    God does encourage, edify, and by the power of the Spirit remind people of His word and his character.

  30. I can certainly relate to the situation here, but I’m not sure the “danger” of prophecy is a good case against it. I could make the same argument about the Bible, because people have:

    1.) Endorsed slavery on behalf of the Bible.

    2.) Slaughtered people groups because of the Bible.

    3.) Cut off limbs on behalf of the Bible.

    But does that mean the Bible is immoral? I don’t think so.

  31. Thanks guys. The post, I hope you can understand, is not an argument against prophecy or the charismata. I would hope and pray that a charismatic could write a post exactly the same, arguing that Gods word is so precious that we don’t casually invoke its presence. The history of the world is full of false prophecy. Please read Jer 23. The point is that we need some reliable way to test the prophecy to see if it is really of God. The suggested method in the comments is completely subjective. It is not unlike the Mormon burning in the bosom.

  32. Hey CMP,

    I think you could have used a lot more tact before posting this article.

    I simply think it would have been wise to perhaps share this with someone who does have greater understanding of prophetic things before you give a somewhat disastrous example of perceived prophecy.

    Also, I think it is somewhat easy to demonstrate that the gifts are used to build up or protect the church. Generally, with something you similar to what you shared, you should seek wisdom from people who might help you in discerning its source… Understanding like that generally comes from practicing and being open to these things.

    I do appreciate your appearance of sincerity though.

  33. Hey, Chris Miller,

    There’s nothing tacky about this article.

    What is tacky, however, is your condescending tone, your accusations regarding the author not seeking wisdom, not being open to these things, and especially your snarky closing comment about an “appearance of sincerity”.

    Now that’s tacky.

  34. Thanks Chad. I am sorry this came across as disastrous. I think I am sincere. But your rebuke will be taken into consideration. Though I have talked to a lot of people about this (how could you know that I have not?). It’s a difficult issue and both side need to consider it very deeply. People misrepresenting people is one thing. But people misrepresenting God is cosmic. Please just consider that we need a less subjective way to test a prophet or prophecy. Deal?

  35. “Please just consider that we need a less subjective way to test a prophet or prophecy. Deal?”

    Please see my first post about the way we (in our church) have always taught on testing – “BART” – Biblical, Agreement of others, Relevant, Testified by the Spirit (and it’s similarity to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral)

  36. Yes Ben. That is the kind of subjective testing I am talking about. I’m good with the first. The second and third are subjective. I have no idea what the third means as it is a bit circular. Testified by the Spirit? How do you test that?!

  37. OK – we obviously have different definitions on subjective ;)

    The 4 elements are in descending order of importance. Biblical is obvious – if it’s not Biblical then it’s not God! The 2nd is about seeking wise (and therefore presumably objective) counsel. The 3rd is more subjective, I agree – but as a general rule I believe that God speaks into our own circumstances.

    The last is, I agree, the trickiest. But the New Testament in clear that we have the Spirit inside us. The Spirit obviously speaks with us in various ways. One way, for instance, is that He convicts us of sin. There is also the sense of the Spirit “quickening” within us – this is more what this fourth test is about. Does the Spirit quicken within me when I hear this prophecy? Do I recognise the Shepherds voice in this?

  38. Because your little test did not work we can now go back to believing and practicing what is true? What kind of theology faith and practice is this? You acted like a spiritual child and demonstrated yourself to be no further theologically or spiritually than an adolescent with this nonsense and you want to lead men and women believers?

  39. @ Missy Markum

    It’s called the theology, faith and practice of not basing our theology and practice on our subjective experiences. He demonstrated how this can be disastrous. The reason the author was able to avoid this disaster is precisely because he is further (along) theologically and spiritually than an adolescent who depends on their experiences. (And who, may I add, calls people names when they choose to not base their life on emotions and experience.)


    The nastiness of some people on this thread has left me stunned.

  40. I know the longer these comment threads go the fewer keep following….but there is an interesting article over at J. P. Moreland’s blog by Timothy Bayless entitled “Is Missing Something in Communication Merely ‘Not Hearing?'”

    I think Bayless is on to something as he lays out different ways we can possibly miss or not hear God correctly. He mentions a continuum of how assured one is in their belief that God has “spoken” in a particular instance. Bayless writes:

    “For example, you could make reference to the strength of P’s beliefs about any of the features of his experience—degrees on a scale ranging from agnosticism to utter certainty. In such cases, P’s “missing it” could be a dismissal of his experience that results, say, from his being somewhere close to agnostic about features of that experience (its origin or content, for example). Or it could result from the combination of (1) being less than certain in the beliefs he holds about his experience (a normal occurrence) and (2) wrongly believing that certainty is necessary for knowledge (it isn’t).”

    It seems that Michael (please, correct me if I’m wrong) is looking for a level of epistemic certainty that is much higher than others feels is warranted. I know Michael is attempting to protect the integrity of God’s name and word. No one here wants the goofiness or dangerous kinds of stuff that Michael (and others) are pointing to as potential (and, at times, actual abuses). But I did think that Ben Thorp’s “BART” was helpful. Simply writing it off as “too subjective” doesn’t seem to me to be helpful. In the nature of the case, communication and communion between persons (in this case God and one of his children) will at times have subjectives elements to it. This might make it less than philosophically certain–but why should that be the test by which we judge the communicative…

  41. event.

    (It said I had 24 characters left!)

  42. Mo,

    Relax. Tones are easily misconstrued in typed out responses.

    I suggested there be more tact in posting such a article. -Tact- I don’t mean to say it is tacky, just that the author should have perhaps spoken with someone who could represent the opposing view before posting.

    I listened to the dialogue between Tim, Michael and Sam Storms and anytime Michael was brought to a contentious point, or a point to be challenged, he feigned naivety. It would be wise for one who still openly admits to not understanding a particular viewpoint to avoid posting about it.

    Surveying the comments is a pretty good indicator that CMP, a good guy and much appreciated for his blog, should use more tact in posting about something he is so confused about.

  43. BTW, where is the dialogue between Sam Storms, Tim, and CMP?

  44. Mo,

    No, in fact he rejected theology, faith and practice based in objectivity and rather, only after submitting it to an erring test, did he decide on the merit of the former. Mr. Patton can only say because he allegedly eliminated the subjective by the subjective and because it did not work out he now, only opts for what is considered objective. But further, he maintains that he still “wants to believe”. Why would you even utter the desire to believe something that is not true if you were not otherwise convinced. That is a spiritual adolescent. He is in no condition to fill the shoes at the rather public place in which he is sees to fill.

    Now, I am sure there are plenty of those who are confused and unsure who happily find Mr. Patton able to lead them seeing he would tolerate such nonsensical practices as a means to establish Biblical truth. We do not teach truth nor establish it from God’s Word because things do or do not happen, we take the Word of God as truth and don’t play games. We trust it, we don’t reject it and say, “well, just in case this is true I will give it a shot and if it turns out bad I will tell others it isn’t true and they shouldn’t do it even though I gave myself license to do it as a means of establishing Biblical truth”. That is simply awful and the work of a novice no matter his formal education. But worse, he had the audacity and immaturity to force his wife to bear the burden of this ignorance. If you cannot see the gross narcissism of Mr. Patton in this case, well follow as you wish.

  45. Patient: “Doctor, that pill you prescribed me not only didn’t work–it gave me a stomach ache.”

    Doctor: “Did you take it with food like I told you?”

    Patient: “No, I wasn’t hungry. But it didn’t do me any good either.”

    Doctor: “Really? I’m surprised. And of course you took it four times a day for ten days as instructed?”

    Patient: “No, I thought that would have been excessive. There is a balance to these things. Most days I took it at least twice. There were some days I took it only in the morning. Only two days when I didn’t take it at all.”

    Doctor: “Is that your bottle? It looks as if you haven’t even taken half of them.”

    Patient: “Why should I? They don’t work and they give me a stomach ache. You should be more careful when you prescribe medication, Doctor.”

  46. #30 says “truth is subjective.” That assessment is subjective, too, of course. And once we make our own sense of relevance or our own experience of value the criterion of “truth,” we have lost truth. As Schaeffer spent a generation emphasizing, when we make our experiences (finding “”Lewis” on facebook; she really is having an affair; wow — God spoke to me in a dream!) the criterion for truth and the basis of our epistemology, we no longer have a basis for truth at all because very soon we will have an experience that is too complicated to interpret. Then another.

    This whole episode, if true (and not just an illustration) is scary. It reminds me of Richard Feynman’s example: he was drifting off to sleep, started thinking of his grandmother whom he had not thought of or seen for years, though she still was living on the East coast (he was on the West). Then he began dreaming about her. His dream was broken by a phone call, which he never received at the fraternity house. They called him — it’s for you, Richard. He was shocked. He went to the phone and he was amazed — it was not his grandmother.

    We all have selective memory and as a result hear stories of amazing events — out of the billions, the ones that show God is speaking directly because the events lined up. So #30 even rejects these personal histories of others, too (colonialists remember colonialism as good, etc.). And we are left with our own spin on Scripture, subjective conjuring, nothing is objective: extraction of principles, subjectivism, and our own experiences as validation.

    Willard is a mystic — sane but a mystic, as is Foster. Moreland sees miracles but not for attribution.

    Will you change your mind on cessation if the next time your dream comes true? Two out of three? One in a million? This approach means we can never really know — the “black swan” may be just one experience away.

  47. Last year Michael had a post that prompted similar discussion. It is here:

    What came out in that discussion in the comments was Michael’s commitment to “methodological naturalism.” See comments #45-47 and #49. I know Michael believes he is open to communication from the Lord (at least that is what he was doing last year in his post) but his “methodological naturalism” seems to get in the way. Also, another problem last year was Michael’s using a “fleece” as a decision making process. I had pointed out that there were other scriptural procedures derived from Acts 10 (see comment #8) he could have used in his decision making process.

    It seems to me that Michael wants a “miraculous sign”. Anything less than this will be filtered through “methodological naturalism” or an attempt to cajole an allegedly supernatural response in the form of a “fleece.”

    I’m not trying to denigrate Michael. He has been bold enough and open enough to share his experiences. In so doing he is engaged in an exegesis of those experiences and is inviting us all to also engage in the interpretation of those experiences.

  48. I think that Grudem’s position on prophecy sounds convincing to me, namely that the word “prophecy” in the NT context didn’t necessarily mean “thus saith the Lord” like in the OT. One example I have of how I think NT prophecy is played out is with my mother in law and her friend. Quite frequently after an exceptionally challenging week, her friend will say that she felt burdened to pray for her this week. It’s not a proclamation of the future and can’t really be “tested” in the OT sense but it’s clear that something like this is used to build up the church.

    In the biography of George Muller, people would suddenly “feel” like they needed to give to his orphanage and those funds were needed right then. Does God communicate somehow to people in order to meet this type of needs? It’s really the only way to explain how God can receive the credit for the provision. The Bible may teach people to give generally but not to give at a certain time.

    Just my thoughts on this.

  49. Hi Mark,

    That is a good observation. Even for those who feel the special gifts of the spirit may no longer be granted, that does not stop God from using His spirit to direct or aid people as He wills.

    I know in prayer many times, I suddenly find I am remembering a verse or series of verses that apply to my request. Is that God’s spirit? I hope so, for sure I am going to give Him credit. However does that mean I am inspired or even right in my theology? Nope, or Mormons’ could just as easily claim they are. The only real way to know is not subjective, but objective. Not simply does the “feeling” exist, but does our theology truly reflect Biblical Christianity, or not.

  50. As of this issue needed more discussion! Nevertheless, I wrote a new post based on my experience today.


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